My mood perked up when I saw that a King Kong Blu-ray would be released on 1.20.09, only to crash-land when I realized it’ll be Peter Jackson‘s version.
What I would love to see would be a John Lowry de-grained version of the original King Kong on Blu-ray. The grain levels in that 1933 classic are excessive in certain portions, to say the least. That brief scene with four leads — Denham, Driscoll, Darrell, Englehorn — leaning against the rails of the ship and listening to the Skull Island drums is ridiculous. Grain first, image and sound second. An Iraqi sandstorm squared.
Where would the harm be in cleaning this classic up? I for one would buy this Blu-ray in a New York minute, providing the upgrading was done and done right.
I tried to re-watch Jackson’s version a couple of years ago on DVD and gave up about 100 minutes in. I posted a half-positive response when I first saw it, saying it kicks into gear at the 70-minute mark, but the flamboyant illogical CG insanity is all but impossible to sit through. Jackson is one of the genuine charlatans of modern cinema. The nature of his game will be understood only by future generations; present-tense moviegoers, I believe, are too swayed by the smoke and mirrors to see it.
King Kong “is too lumpy and draggy during the first hour or so to be called exquisite or masterful,” I wrote on 12.8.05. “But there’s no denying that it wails from the 70-minute mark until the big weepy finale at the three-hour mark. Monkey die, everybody cry.” I added that it’s “damned exciting in an emotional, giddily absurd, logic-free adrenalized way.”
“If I were a 14 year-old kid talking to friends about all of us seeing Kong a second or third time, I would suggest that everyone try to slip into the theatre after the first hour because who wants to sit through all that talky crap again? Kong isn’t better than Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures because it’s almost entirely about enthusiasm and has almost nothing to do with restraint (bad word!), but it’s still the most thoroughly pulse-pumping, rousingly kick-ass film Jackson’s ever delivered, and respect needs to be paid.”
Boy, am I ashamed I wrote that last sentence. Deeply ashamed. I don’t have a decent explanation except that I’m human and weak and occasionally susceptible to crap.
“Repeating what Spielberg has already accomplished in the Jurassic Park series, Jackson has fallen into a trap,” wrote the New Yorker‘s David Denby. “Spectacle must be more and more astonishing or it creates as much as boredom as wonder, yet it’s not easy, as filmmakers are finding out, to top what others have delivered and stay within a disciplined narrative.”